Sewing, Playing, New World Wandering

Apologies for disappearing again, I’ve been struggling with ongoing technical difficulties (my laptop hates me, basically, and I can assure you that at this point, the feeling is mutual), but other than that, I’ve been doing a ton of sewing and exploring my new surroundings. Every chance I get, I’m going for walks in my neighborhood, finding new and old stomping grounds and haunting the thrift and antique stores. I’ll do a proper round up of my most recent sewing projects as soon as I can, but since I don’t know if I can trust my laptop, I’m going to just write a quick post today, sharing some of my most recent crafty finds and what I’m currently working on.

On the weekend I went to the fabric flea market, which is an annual event in my city. A mix of local businesses, seamstresses looking to destash and fabulous fabric lovers in general come together to sell anything and everything sewing related. This is only the second time I’ve been and it was the first time I went alone, which was kind of nerve wracking because it tends to be very packed and loud, so it gets intense and overwhelming if you’re an anxious person, but it was worth it. I found some incredible fabric and patterns and only wish I had been able to pick up more of the wonderful fabric!

From top left: 6 meters of 100% cotton, 10 meters 100% cotton, 1 meter African wax print, 1 meter cotton/poly blend, 2.75 meters 100% cotton, 1.3 meters silk, and 2.2 meters cotton.

All in all, I brought home just over 23 meters of fabric, plus a nice little pile of patterns:

From top left: Simplicity 7485 (Size 9/10), Style 4274 (size 8), Simplicity 6279 (size 8), Butterick 4646 (size 12), Butterick 4526 (size 14), Simplicity 8705 (size 12), Simplicity 9446 (size 12), Butterick 6330 (size 18-20-22).

The top four patterns are all ones I snagged to sew for myself, and the last four are hopefully future projects for my sisters, though I didn’t realize until I got home that Butterick 6330 is unfortunately the wrong size for any of them. Typically I keep their measurements on my phone just in case I find a nice pattern that might work for one of them, but it was too crowded to pull out my phone at the flea market. Oops. It’s too bad, the pattern is gorgeous.

I also found these two gorgeous children’s patterns:

Vogue 7058 (size 5-6-6X) and Simplicity 2392 (size xs-l).

I don’t know for sure yet if my niece will go for that gorgeous Vogue dress, but I might just make it anyway, because it looks fabulous and involves a lot of really fine techniques and embroidery and I’d love to challenge myself to create something really beautiful with it. I’m currently working on Simplicity 2392, which unfortunately has some confusing instructions. I’m trying to follow them as much as possible, but may just end up winging it a bit. You can’t tell from this terrible photo, but it features embroidery as well, which I’m already rebelling against and instead using a design by one of my incredibly talented sisters. My embroidery isn’t doing her artwork justice, but it’s a joy to try and recreate it for this special piece.

The yoke of the dress and the beautiful piece that inspired this project, by my awesome sister Celia.

I have so much work left to do on this wee dress, but I’m enjoying it, even though the instructions are a bit of a headache. So many teeny tiny seams! I’m the embroidering pockets as well, and will definitely post another picture once the dress is done. So far, even though the instructions can be a bit confusing, I totally recommend this pattern, the little dress is so pretty and it’s really nice to make a dress where you can take the time out to do embroidery. I really love making children’s clothing when I get the chance and am thrilled to have the excuse to try my hand at creating a small beauty like this one.

I have another project on the go as well right now and have many more planned. I finished three or four dresses since I last updated that I’ll have to write about soon. Today I’m off to get a pattern printed because obviously having two projects in the works just isn’t enough! Working on sewing projects with or for my loved ones has been so wonderful and creatively inspiring, and I’ve been finding endless inspiration on my little jaunts around the neighborhood. The clash of history and modernity, colour and sound in my surroundings ignites the old creative spark and I hope I’m able to translate some of it into my sewing.

I hope you’ve all been doing well! I’m crossing my fingers that this misbehaving laptop starts being more reliable from here on out so I can write more.

Now, off to get that pattern printed!

Operation Sharon Tate: Works in Progress

In my last post, which feels like it was written a million years ago, I mentioned that I was working on a dress for one of my sisters. Well, since I last wrote, I finished the mock up for it and another dress for her and now that my laptop seems to be working again (trying not to even breathe on it in case it decides to freeze again!) I’m finally going to post about them!

In case you’re wondering, the reason this post is titled Operation Sharon Tate is because my sister and I are both huge Sharon Tate fans and what started this dressmaking project was her wish for some Sharon Tate inspired garments. Sharon was always incredibly stylish and would transition effortlessly from mod mini skirts and dresses to casual (yet stunning) hippie chic, so these are the sorts of styles that we have been focusing on.

The first dress was made using Style 2204, from 1978:

As always, my photos are horrific!

I was taking and sending her progress pictures throughout the process of making both of these dresses, which I’m really glad of! The mock up was made using a vintage bed sheet, because that’s how I roll.

She chose view 1 and it was my first time sewing an elasticated sleeve and neckline, so it was interesting to do and much, much easier than I thought. It was also my first time sewing raglan sleeves! Luckily with this pattern, the sleeves were incredibly easy to figure out. Since this dress is just a mock up, I wasn’t using any fancy finishing techniques and was being a bit slapdash about things, but it was only because I knew that I might have to take in or let out seams or adjust the elastic in the neckline, etc, and I wanted to be able to do that easily in the test garment.

Unfortunately my sister lives out of town, so we won’t be able to do any fittings until she comes back for a visit (hopefully in the summer!). I’m itching to make this dress in some really nice fabric for her because I really loved making it. The pattern is great and I know this dress is going to look beautiful on her once it’s in a nice fabric and properly fitted.

The second dress was made using a fabulous pattern she found online, Simplicity 7756, from 1968:

This fabric was was originally going to be used for the entire mock up, but I decided against it due to the flimsiness of it – though it did end up appearing in the dress, albeit in much smaller doses!

She chose view 3 and since she’s leaning toward wanting this dress made in a sturdier cotton fabric that will hold a nice shape, I tracked down some stiff cotton at the thrift store to bring this dress to life. Unfortunately, merely handling this fabric immediately causes it to wrinkle, and it’s so weirdly stiff that I stabbed myself several times while sewing it, but I carried on for the love of my sister and the project.

Ooof, the wrinkles!!! The lighting! The ridiculous lack of a real set up for taking photos! Unfortunately since I spent my first month in the new place both sick with a brutal sinus infection and injured after the move, I haven’t finished unpacking or set up a proper space for taking photos yet. Ho hum. It’ll happen eventually! I hope you’ll excuse the horrific photos until then.

Originally she wanted the collar to be in the same fabric as the rest of the dress, but once the dress got to the stage it was at in the photos above, I knew that would be a mistake with this fabric because the collar would just blend in and look very plain. I wanted it to really pop in the photos, especially since she won’t be seeing the dress in person for awhile, so I went ahead and used the fabric from the picture with the pattern to make up the collar.

If you’re wondering about the weird looking hem, it was just pinned in place. also, yay for the dress still being a wrinkled mess! These progress pictures were never intended to be put online, but here we are!

But something was still missing. After seeing how much better it looked with a contrasting collar, I really wanted to add a contrasting sleeve cuff. The pattern didn’t give cuffs as an option, but I knew that if my sister agreed, I could either try my hand at drafting some, or find a pattern in my stash that might include a cuff piece in her size. I spoke with my sister after sending this photo and luckily we were both on the same page and she had been thinking the same thing!

I dug around in my patterns and found another Style pattern in her size: Style 1064 from 1975, which is a blouse pattern that luckily had usable cuffs!

So I cut out the cuffs and got to work immediately. Once the cuffs were finished, I found some pretty vintage pearl buttons from my collection for the cuffs and the front of the dress, sewed them on, inserted the zipper and hemmed the dress!

Yes, it’s still wrinkly AF in these pictures. I’ve since ironed the hell out of it and hung it up safely in my closet to prevent the wrinkle demon from attacking it again.

All I need to do now is figure out the belt!

My sister loves how both of these mock ups have turned out so far and I hope she likes them even more once she’s tried them on and that they fit! It’s been so much fun working on this project with her and I can’t wait for her to try these dresses on so I can get started on the real garments. I love both of these patterns and it’s been really hard to resist the urge to just go ahead and make them both up properly.

We already have a third dress planned that I’ll probably get started on next week! In the meantime, I’ve been working on a dress with a collar that is so 70’s it hurts – Simplicity 8920, from 1970:

I found this pattern in a vintage store and couldn’t resist it, even though it’s one size smaller than I normally take in 70’s patterns. Fingers crossed it will actually fit. This dress is so 70’s and SO Brady Bunch that I’m completely obsessed with it even though I know that the likelihood of it coming out looking like a costume is damn near 100%.

Since it was going to go in that direction anyway, I decided to embrace it and found a sheet at the thrift store that would really bring it home and made it up in it. The timing of making this dress was great, because I’d learned how to sew raglan sleeves with elastic casings from the first dress I made my sister!

This dress is nowhere near finished, as you can see. The purple satin in the third picture was salvaged from a dress I made back in August that was a total fail (and thus, never blogged about), it’s going to be used for the collar, sash and band (if I decide to include it). The raglan sleeves on this pattern were a nightmare compared to my sister’s dress. Like putting together the most confusing puzzle, but I figured it out in the end.

The band, slash and collar are just about ready to either be sewn onto the dress (in the case of the collar and band) or finished (in the case of the very pieced together sash). Once that’s all done, I need to insert the zipper, hem the dress (boy howdy is this dress ever going to be short! The hem is supposed to be about 2 1/2″ but I might change that to an inch or so, because I don’t know how comfortable I am with the length!) and sew the buttons onto the band. I’m going to have to track down some buttons though, I don’t think I have any in my collection that are quite right for this dress.

Though this dress is fun to make and I’m excited to see what it will look like once it’s done, I’m having way more fun sewing for my sister and planning the sewing projects for my other sisters, so I can’t wait to get stuck back into those projects. This one isn’t nearly as important to me, which feels kind of weird to say because I know I should be more excited about this Brady Bunch inspired fever dream of a dress, but I just love collaborating with my sisters on projects so much and I’d forgotten just how much fun it is. It’s been incredibly rewarding and exciting and has made me fall in love with sewing all over again on an even deeper level. Hearing my sister get excited about the progress of the dresses when I would send her pictures and coming up with ideas together, planning fabric and colours and patterns and everything has just been so much fun, I’d happily sew her an entire 1960’s and 70’s wardrobe.

Well, this cursed laptop is demanding that I update it again. Hopefully this update won’t cause the touchpad to freeze and stop working again like last time. Ugh. Never again, Windows, never again. Fingers crossed this time nothing bad will happen and I’ll be able to post again soon – I miss you guys!

Quick update

I know, it’s been forever since I posted anything! Things were super hectic last month with the preparations for the move and then immediately after moving I came down with a brutal sinus infection that I haven’t been able to shake AND my laptop decided to quit functioning properly after a dumb Windows update. I’m going to try troubleshooting the problem ASAP, once my head has cleared a bit from the sinus infection and I can focus properly, because boy has the infection ever made my thinking cloudy.

I have some exciting projects I’m really itching to blog about, including a dress for one of my sisters that I’m currently making the toile/muslin for. It’s a Style pattern from 1978 (Style 2204) and it will be only the first of a number of dresses I’m going to be making her using patterns from the mid-late 1960’s and the 70’s.

A lot of the big sewing projects I have planned out for the year are for my sisters and I’m really excited about collaborating with them on these garments! It gives me the chance to learn how to fit other women, sew for a variety of body types, plus hopefully do what I’ve wanted to do from the start – create bespoke garments tailored to their individual styles that will (fingers crossed!) fit them beautifully and help them feel like the gorgeous humans they are in these garments and their own skin. Sewing for myself has done so much to help my body image and has had such a powerful impact on the way I see myself and my body that I want to spread that to the people I love the most in the world, so beginning that process is a huge goal of mine this year. I really hope that these first projects for my sisters go well! Wish me luck!

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be back to posting properly soon! I miss everyone and am sorry for kind of dropping off the face of the planet for awhile there! I hope you’ve all been doing well. ❤

A lucky Betsey Johnson dress (and a bit of a life update)

Awhile back I was browsing through one of my local Value Village stores and by pure luck found one of my most amazing thrift store finds so far – a Betsey Johnson dress! My heart just about stopped when I saw the tag. Betsey Johnson is one of my favourite designers and I absolutely adore her work, so finding a dress by her was like a dream come true!

This is obviously one of her more recent dresses, probably made to be sold in a retail store sometime in the last 15-20 years, I’m guessing, and I love it! It’s in fabulous condition and actually has pockets! The previous owner had sewn the pockets closed for some reason and the stitches were coming loose, so I wasn’t sure if the dress was just coming apart a bit and needed mending at first, until I had a closer look and realized exactly what had been done. I carefully unpicked the stitches, because POCKETS! In a DRESS! Actual pockets! Who wouldn’t want that?!

The dress is a size or two too big for me, unfortunately, but if I wear it with a belt, I think I might be able to get away with it – until I grow into it a little more at least!

I see this dress as having not only been a lucky find, but one that brought me some good luck as well. Though things have still be tricky and stressful, some good things have started happening since finding dress, such as the move I briefly mentioned in my last post.

I finally found an apartment that I really like, in a neighborhood that I love and feel safe and at home in, and I will be moving next month. I’m so happy about the apartment and can’t wait until all of the stressful parts of moving are finally over and I can relax in my new home and be in a place that feels much more peaceful.

I’m going to have to show a lot of self-restraint because my new place is right down the street from a vintage/antique store that I love, plus there are a lot of other wonderful little places in the neighborhood, including my favourite fabric store! This is going to be such a fun neighborhood to live in, there are little art galleries and quirky boutiques and pop-up shops and some really great places to eat. It’s kind of artsy and funky and I feel right at home there already.

Things have been incredibly busy trying to get everything packed and ready for the move and life has been stressful, but once it’s all over I’ll be able to post more regularly – I have a backlog of other cute vintage finds and sewing projects to share and a ton of posts planned in general! I may be busy and stressed, but in a lot of ways I feel more at peace and I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my life – I’m going to make it a damned good one! I mean, with this Betsey Johnson dress, how could it not be?

Thoughts on the importance of Instagram banning graphic images of self harm and why a much larger discussion needs to happen

It is very rare that I have put a trigger warning on a post, but considering the subject matter, I think it would be appropriate in this case. So if you are triggered by discussions of self harm or suicide, please take care of yourself and click out of this post now.

This was not a post I thought I would be writing today, especially in the midst of an incredibly rushed move when I should really be packing, but I read this article from the BBC while drinking my morning coffee and felt compelled to write.

So, brace yourselves, this is going to be one of those posts that gets deeply personal, emotional and raw. If you’re not up for that right now, feel free not to read it, but please come back to it later unless you think it will be triggering to you in any way. But if you don’t want to read it because you think this is an issue that doesn’t effect you, or never will, please read it anyway, because as a society, this is everyone’s problem, all you need to do to realize that to is look at the alarming statistics of self harm, which will be linked at the end of the post.

Somehow, until today, I hadn’t heard of Molly Russell, but learning of her tragic suicide in 2017 and of her family’s fight to get graphic images of self harm removed from social media platforms such as Instagram touched me on a deeply personal level. I did not know Molly Russell, but at the same time, I’ve known many girls like her, and I was once like her too.

People who are following from my previous blog may remember me mentioning my history of self harm in passing, or noticed old scars in some of my photos. This was something that used to be a very big part of my life for many, many years. It is a painful history that I am reminded of every day, because the countless scars on my body make it impossible to forget, but it is history for me.

I last self harmed in October of 2013 and it alarms me to think that it was a part of my life even that recently, but at the same time I’m proud of how long it has been, because I never thought I would get to this point, I don’t know that anyone else in my life did either.

The first time I can remember self harming was when I was eight years old. The internet wasn’t really a thing regular people had access to at that point and self harm wasn’t really something that was talked about or at least not in any way that I would have been aware of at that age. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just knew that I was in pain and filled with emotions that felt completely unbearable and overwhelming and I needed to get them out of my body somehow, as if the emotions themselves would kill me if they weren’t released. I don’t remember if I thought this was normal, I just know it felt like the only thing I could do, and it became a compulsion from that point on. If the feelings became unbearable, I felt had to hurt myself in some way to make them stop.

It makes me sad to think of that little girl. Terribly, terribly sad.

I was about thirteen or fourteen years old the first time I saw images of self harm anywhere, and I still remember them vividly. It was a Seventeen magazine article and I can still see the images in my mind as clearly as if they were right in front of me. Somehow I didn’t directly connect this to the form of self harm I had been doing since I was small, but I was both horrified and fascinated by the thought (and images) of girls my age cutting themselves to release pain. It wasn’t that long before I started doing the same.

Would this have happened without reading that article, seeing those images? Maybe, maybe not, but knowing myself and my reasons for self harming, I think it was just a natural progression. It almost doesn’t matter who or what lit the match, the house was always going to go up in flames.

So why does it matter that graphic images of self harm be removed from the internet? Well, I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret that doesn’t often get talked about, that people who struggle with self-destructive illnesses such as self harm or eating disorders don’t like to admit.

Sometimes we use images like these to purposely trigger ourselves.

I know I did, especially once I started discovering websites that displayed them.* To this day, even though I haven’t self harmed in years, this is a very weird thing to admit. It feels wrong to say it. It feels as shameful to admit now as it would have back when I was actively harming myself. Looking at these images can become part of the compulsion, part of the illness, and be just as destructive and damaging. It can push you to do even more harm to yourself, or more extreme forms of harm that you may not have done otherwise.

There is a real problem with the stigma around self harm, which can sadly be the most damaging when it is coming from those within the medical and mental health community itself. All too often it is the people who are supposed to be there to help who are are the most open in their disgust or disdain or lack of empathy for the people who are suffering, and this can lead to extremely harmful treatment (some of the worst of which I actually won’t be discussing in this post, because I fear I may already be testing the limits of how much people are willing to read on this topic).

There always seems to be a question of who is “worthy” of treatment, who is “really sick” or “faking it for attention.” This doesn’t help, in fact, it makes things so much worse. You might get told, when you finally admit to harming yourself, when you finally show someone your wounds or your scars, that it isn’t that bad, that you’re just doing it for attention, or get compared to others who harm themselves in “worse” ways as if your pain is less real or worthy of care. Or you might be told that what you are doing is disgusting, that there are people with “real” illnesses, who are “really sick”, who deserve help more than you do. Either way, in these scenarios, your pain isn’t taken seriously. You are invalidated. You are shamed. Deemed unworthy of help. And inside you are screaming. It took so much courage and strength to ask for help in the first place. You know something is terribly wrong, you know you need help. So you might push yourself further. You might up the ante. You might be left feeling like no one will help you otherwise.

I can only think of two illnesses where this is such a huge problem, and they are two that disproportionately effect girls and women – self harm and eating disorders. No one should feel they have to make themselves even “sicker” just to be deemed worthy of treatment. No one should feel they have to prove the legitimacy of their illness and suffering. The sad fact is that illnesses, especially mental illnesses, that effect women and girls more than men and boys tend to get much less research funding. Which is really bad when mental health issues in general get so little research funding as it is. Resources, especially good, evidence based resources, are hard to access, may not be available where you live, might have alarmingly long waiting lists and very few spaces available for patients, or be prohibitively expensive for patients or their families. From what I have read this seems to be true just about everywhere, and I know it is a huge problem in my own country.

Even in a country like mine, that has universal health care, I still see way too many articles written about desperate parents appealing for help for their children because their province or city doesn’t have treatment for illnesses such as eating disorders. Or the treatment they have access to is woefully ineffective. Self harm, eating disorders and addiction are often co-morbid illnesses, but most eating disorder programs or addiction treatment programs require that you abstain from self harm before and during treatment, and if you self harm while in treatment, you can get kicked out. When waiting lists for treatment are usually at least a year long due to shortages of beds, this can be devastating at best, a death sentence at worst.

Treatment for self harm in hospitals, at least in my day, often revolved around behavior modification. If you don’t know what that means, I will explain it in the most basic way: if you behave (don’t cause problems, comply with whatever medication or treatment they prescribe, refrain from harming yourself, etc) you get rewarded with privileges (being allowed to wear your own clothes, have your own belongings, make phone calls, leave the ward first with others and then by yourself, see family, etc). If you don’t, you get punished (confined to your room, made to wear hospital pajamas, have your belongings taken away, phone and off-ward privileges removed, not allowed to have visitors, etc, until they decide you’ve earned those privileges back).

Behavior modification programs are a terrible and usually ineffective form of treatment for disorders that are already self-punishing and often a coping mechanism for some form of trauma or PTSD. For people who are self-destructive as a method for coping with the pain of abuse, for example, all it does is continue the cycle of abuse and punishment. It confirms what you may already think – that you are bad, unworthy of love or care, that you are the cause of the abuse you suffered, that it is your fault. That it wouldn’t happen if you were just good enough.

This post has become about so much more than images of self-harm, but there are so many problems when it comes to how this entire illness is treated, that it would feel really wrong to just say “Instagram is banning graphic images of self harm, great, this will fix everything!” It is a good thing to do, I’m glad they’re doing it and hope other social media platforms do the same, because it is so important, but there is a huge discussion that doesn’t seem to really be happening: about how desperately evidence based treatment is needed, how desperately research funding is needed, how absolutely essential quicker access to good, affordable treatment is. People are silently screaming for help, and they are being let down in such a devastating and heartbreaking way.

I cried reading the BBC article this morning. I’m in tears again now writing all of this. Molly needed help, serious help. The girls I knew in and out of hospitals needed serious help. None of these girls had to die. Too many of them did, and do, all the time. It breaks my heart.

In the last year of my mother’s life, as she sat in a taxi following the ambulance that was taking me to the hospital because I had overdosed, she had to come to terms with the fact that I might die before her. By my own hand. And it might not even be intentional. She had doctors telling her that I would most likely be dead within a few years and that it would probably be an accident. Because at that point, the self harm had become so extreme that accidental death from it was a huge possibility. I wish so much that she could see me now, that she could see how far I’ve come, that the last year and months of her life hadn’t been spent having to worry about losing me. I wish that no one in my family had been put through that.

Sometimes I wish that I had never started harming myself. I wish that I could wipe away the scars and the history in my medical charts that damns me every time I try to get any form of help, whether medical or otherwise.** I can’t change these things, but I can wake up every day and fight and each day is another day that I’m not self-harming. Every year I’m alive is another year I’ve outlived the life expectancy the doctors gave me.

There is nothing special about me though, it wasn’t getting the right treatment that got me here (because I didn’t), it wasn’t that I fought harder than Molly or anyone else (because, once again, I didn’t). I don’t even really know what it was that made it so I was able to quit, because it was so many things. It was big things and small things and the weight of it all. It was being tired. Sick and tired, of this being my life. It was realizing that self harm didn’t even “work” anymore and hadn’t for years – it didn’t make the feelings go away, it just made everything worse. It was making a promise to myself that I would never do it again, telling myself it was not an option, no matter how hard things got, it would never be an option again. And I had to do it all alone, because treatment, let alone effect treatment, was next to impossible to access. That shouldn’t have been the case.

If social media platforms like Instagram are being held partially responsible for Molly’s death, we also need to hold the medical and mental health system at least as responsible.*** I don’t know what kind of treatment, if any, Molly was getting before her death, but I know of too many cases where either the person wasn’t in treatment, or the treatment was grossly inadequate. Friends of mine have died for this very reason. I almost did myself.

These things need to be talked about. The discussion needs to happen, and it can’t just stop at talking and hand wringing over what to do with these kids who are hurting themselves. We can’t forget that these “kids” grow up to be adults who still need help just as badly, but tend to fall through the cracks of the system way too often and way too easily. And we can never forget that far too often people who suffer with these types of disorders end up like Molly. And every single time that happens, it is tragic. It’s a loss. It’s a horrible waste of life, of opportunity, of a future that can never happen, of happiness that can never be felt. These people deserve so much better. We as a society can do so much better by them and their loved ones. No one should ever feel like suicide is the only option they have left.

My heart goes out to the Russell family and anyone else who has lost a loved one to suicide. Having lost people who were close to me because of suicide, I know this pain all too well, and it is a huge part of what compelled me to write this today. To honor my friends, and anyone else whose life has been cut short like this. I just wish I could do more.

Edited to add: It is incredibly vital that anyone struggling with issues related to underlying trauma get comprehensive treatment for the trauma itself, and that signs of abuse be taken extremely seriously. Abused children fall through the cracks way too often, and even when they are brought in for treatment related to issues due to underlying trauma (or are brought to the attention of medical professionals showing signs of abuse), the trauma itself gets swept under the rug and goes untreated, which can have a devastating impact on someone’s life. The case of 14 year old Naika Venant is an absolutely shocking and heartbreaking example of why treating trauma (and better protections for children who are being abused) is critical. From what I read it sounds like she was completely failed by the very systems that should have protected her and it disgusts and horrifies me. This never should have happened. Naika deserved so much better than that and the horrible hand she was dealt in life.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self harm, please reach out for whatever help you can get. I know a lot of times in this post I spoke negatively about some of the treatment available or the mental health profession in general, but I would never want to discourage anyone from getting treatment or therapy, because it truly can help and it can save your life. Not all treatment or experiences with it will be negative and if you have had a negative treatment experience, don’t give up, keep fighting, there will be treatment out there for you, there will be something that will help. Talk to someone you trust, and if you don’t feel like you have anyone you can turn to, you can always call a suicide prevention hotline and speak to someone who has been trained to provide informed and empathetic help. Here is a list of international suicide prevention hotlines.

Please don’t think you have to suffer in silence, there is always another option, you are never truly alone. You matter, your life matters, and it does get better, though it may not feel like it right now, there is always hope. Please keep fighting.

Some further reading:

Self injury, Self harm Statistics and Facts –

Self Harm – National Alliance on Mental Health

5 Self Harm Myths We Need to Stop Believing – The Mighty

“Why the diseases that cause the most harm don’t always get the most research money” – The Washington Post, July 17th, 2015 (doesn’t mention self harm specifically, but does mention suicide and eating disorders)

*This is part of the reason I try to be really careful and responsible with the photos I post, I don’t want to potentially trigger others. I’m also acutely aware of how these types of scars can be viewed by people who don’t self harm as well, it’s impossible for me not to be, as a person existing in the world with the scars that I have. This post is already far too long to talk about the kinds of reactions I’m used to getting when people who don’t know me see my scars, but this is why I still tend to hide them in public all these years later. Though I always try to be responsible about the photos I post where scars may be visible, unfortunately it isn’t always possible to hide them completely – plus, honestly, after almost 30 years of hiding, I’m getting kind of tired of feeling like I have to, but it’s a bit of a balancing act trying to make sure that no matter what, I don’t potentially cause harm.

** One weird side to these wishes is knowing that if it weren’t for the level of stigma and often hurtful reactions I get to my scars and my history, I probably wouldn’t even care so much that the scars themselves are there. They are a part of me. And I’m not ashamed of my past or what I went through, it is part of what made me the woman I am today and I am proud of who I am.

***I just wanted to say I don’t blame Molly’s parents for using these platforms as a starting point for change, or for partially blaming social media for Molly’s death. It isn’t their responsibility to try and change the other things I’ve addressed in this post and I know that the medical and mental health system itself is something that feels beyond everyone’s ability to change or control. I stand behind the Russell family 100% and am really glad that they were able to accomplish this, because it in and of itself is huge and incredibly important. I just wanted to use my little voice, for what it’s worth, to try and open up a broader discussion or at least get people thinking about this a bit more.

Scarlett Willow Shop Review!

Full disclosure: I was given these garments as a gift from Scarlett Willow Shop and only paid for shipping. I was not, however, asked or expected to write this review in exchange for these items, I did so because I wanted to and all opinions expressed in this review are my own honest thoughts and impressions.

Full disclosure: I was given these garments as a gift from Scarlett Willow Shop and only paid for shipping. I was not, however, asked or expected to write this review in exchange for these items, I did so because I wanted to and all opinions expressed in this review are my own honest thoughts and impressions.

Awhile ago on my old blog, I wrote a spotlight piece on Scarlett Willow Shop, one of my absolute favourite shops on Etsy. Well, Ashley, the owner of Scarlett Willow, was incredibly sweet and sent me a wonderful thank you package that I wanted to share with all of you!

Ashley sent me two gorgeous vintage tops and I absolutely love them. They were very well packaged and came wrapped individually in tissue paper and it was so exciting to unwrap them.

This first top appears to have been made by a home seamstress (one of my favourite kinds of vintage garments to find!), as there are no tags (or signs of tags being removed), and I really love it. The voluminous, floaty sleeves are amazing and the top fits really well. The top is in amazing condition and I’m really looking forward to sewing skirts (and eventually a pair of bell bottoms!) to pair with it! I think that this top must have been made in the mid to late 1960’s, and I really love the style, it’s so much fun to wear!!

The second top is a lovely 1960’s yellow pussy bow blouse:

This blouse is amazing and I can’t help but smile when I put it on, I love the bright yellow floral print! I’m already mentally planning skirts I can make to go with it and can’t wait to start sourcing the fabric! I love how this blouse feels both classy and fun with the bright colour and print. It has so many wonderful features, such as the button up sleeve cuffs, the pussy bow, the light gathering at the shoulders…this blouse is just gorgeous!

Both tops are in excellent condition and arrived freshly cleaned, which was really nice! Shipping was really fast, even though Scarlett Willow Shop is based in New York, and I’m in Canada, which was fabulous! I can’t wait to start wearing these on a regular basis, I know they’re both definitely going to become major wardrobe staples! They’ll fit perfectly into the 1960’s-1970’s inspired wardrobe I’ve been building and creating for myself.

Thank you so much, Ashley, for these incredible gifts! I feel so honored to have been given them and to have them in my wardrobe!

You can find Scarlett Willow Shop on Etsy and follow them on their fabulous Instagram account!

I know what I like (in your wardrobe)

I can’t believe January is almost over! I spent the last month doing a fair bit of sewing, and finished up a jacket that I had temporarily abandoned due to buttonhole related anxiety, so I thought I would share the clothes I’ve been making (and finishing) this month and do a bit of a catch up.

While not the most perfect jacket by any stretch of the imagination, this is the first one I’ve ever made and I’m pretty proud of it. I forgot to take a photo of the back, but there is a self fabric tie that you do up in the back and I really like that feature, which makes it doubly silly that I forgot to photograph it!

I made this using McCall’s 4215:

The fabric is a mustard corduroy and I used brown vintage buttons. I started this jacket back in November, I think, but was so intimidated by the permanence of buttonholes even though I’ve sewn them a number of times before, that I put this project on the back burner until a week or so ago when I decided to bite the bullet and finally finish it! I’m really glad I did, because I think this jacket will be fun to wear once the weather finally starts warming up.

I actually used McCall’s 6904 to make two dresses this month because I loved this pattern so much!

Both times I made view B but omitted the faux pockets. I messed up a bit on the sleeves of the first version because I accidentally cut out the pieces for the long sleeved version and had to try and fix it because I didn’t have enough fabric left to re-cut the sleeves, but I still absolutely love this dress and wear it all the time.

I used the same brown vintage buttons that I used for the jacket and this wonderful 100% cotton fabric that I love. I found this in the quilting section, but it’s much softer and more lightweight than typical quilting cotton and works really well for the dress. I love this fabric!

The second version was made using this adorable fabric that I also found in the quilting section, though this one is definitely a heavier weight, but I couldn’t resist those raccoons with their disgruntled little faces!

Close up of the disgruntled raccoon faces!

Unfortunately, the fabric is a little too pale for my skin tone and I think it washes me out a bit, which is really too bad, because it’s a really fun dress and those raccoons never fail to put me in a good mood. I’ve been trying to think of ways that I could still wear it, but don’t know if something like dyeing it a darker colour would completely mess it up and obliterate those adorable raccoons. What do you think? I’d appreciate any advice any of you might have!

And the last big project of the month was made using yet another vintage McCall’s sewing pattern! Wow, I didn’t realize that I’d been on such a McCall’s kick! I really wanted to make a dress inspired by the style of 1960’s and 70’s clothes sold by one of my favourite Etsy shops, ScarlettWillowShop, so for this dress I used McCall’s 4762:

I love Marlo Thomas and That Girl is such a fun show, so I couldn’t resist making this dress! It had been waiting in my pattern stash for the right fabric and as soon as I saw this vintage fabric in the thrift store I knew it would be perfect! I made view B of this pattern, because I knew it was already going to be pretty long on me, since I’m only 5’3″.

I completely lined the dress using a vintage bed sheet, because the main cotton fabric I used for the dress turned out to be kind of rough and scratchy against the skin and I knew it would bother me too much to wear it unlined. Luckily I realized that before I started sewing! This is the first fully lined garment I’ve made and I love that almost every single seam is hidden inside of the lining. I still need to pink the sleeve seams, but I finished the dress yesterday morning and then things got really busy so I didn’t have the time to do it.

I’m posting this last three pictures of me actually wearing the dress mostly in memory of the last truly 60’s/70’s feature left in my 1960’s apartment building – the tiles on my bathroom wall! The cool vintage vibes this place had were what made me sign the lease, but sadly they stripped away all of the old features that made this place so cool years ago when they renovated the common areas of the building.

Speaking of apartments and moving, I looked at an apartment today. I wish I could say that I loved it and will be moving in right away, but it was definitely not for me. The apartment itself was very tiny and very dark, and the small size and darkness made me feel claustrophobic and awful, like being in a small, dark cave. There were other issues with the place too, and I just knew that I wouldn’t be happy there. It’s really too bad because everything outside of the apartment would have been great, but I just couldn’t say yes to a place that made me feel so unhappy. Years ago, I probably would have taken the apartment due to some silly feeling of obligation or low self esteem or a bunch of other nonsense factors, so I’m proud that I was able to realize that it wasn’t right for me and I wouldn’t be happy there, and actually call back and turn it down,. And I’m almost even more proud of the fact that I was able to stand my ground when the manager of the building tried to make me feel bad and like I was making some huge mistake that I was going to regret over the phone.

I know I won’t regret it, I made the right decision for me and I’m really proud that I was able to assert myself and make a choice that was in my own best interest instead of trying to appease someone else out of misplaced guilt. And I know that turning this place down isn’t the end of the world, there will be other (hopefully better!) apartments.

What about you? What have you been sewing lately? Do you having any apartment/house hunting nightmares you’d like to share? Do you know what I could do to make the disgruntled raccoon dress work? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!